Chicago Teachers Union wants schools to shelter homeless

Chicago Teachers Union wants schools to shelter homeless

A 142-page leaked set of Chicago Teachers Union demands includes creation of dormitories for unaccompanied youth and use of schools as sheltering places, all of which fall outside the normal scope of bargaining.

The goal was clear when the Chicago Teachers Union hand-picked union staffer Brandon Johnson and bankrolled his way into the Chicago mayor’s office: get everything it wanted during 2024 contract negotiations.

Included among the many new demands that fall outside the normal scope of bargaining is taxpayer-funded housing: creation of dormitories for youth living on their own and use of schools as sheltering places for homeless families.

Schools as dormitories and sheltering places

CTU is demanding the board identify schools with vacant and unused floors to be converted into dormitories for unaccompanied youth and to provide access to school building shower and laundry facilities for students and families in temporary living situations.

The union is also demanding the board identify functioning schools with separate entrances to be used as temporary sheltering places for homeless CPS families. The union wants these “schools-turned-sheltering places” to have a night-time custodial team of at least two plus social service staff.

Creation of affordable housing using Chicago tax revenue

CTU put $400,000 behind Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s failed real estate tax hike and subjected itself to an ethics complaint for lobbying students and pulling them from class to vote. CTU was looking for a payoff from their involvement in the “Bring Chicago Home” campaign, with plans to use tax revenue generated for affordable housing.

Voters rejected Johnson’s real estate tax hike, but CTU is demanding the city use Chicago’s tax increment financing funds and revenue from real estate transfer taxes, a corporate head tax and a millionaire’s tax to fund affordable family housing units in Chicago.

Caveat: CTU wants the affordable housing units to be within the enrollment boundary of sustainable community schools. CTU is demanding the board create 180 more sustainable community schools despite the failure of the 20 sustainable community schools already operating in CPS.

Another demand seeks a partnership with the city to create 10,000 new affordable housing units, with priority given to CPS students and families. But the demands fail to explicitly designate the new housing units for homeless students, making it unclear who the housing is intended to help.

Rental and housing assistance

Two demands in the leaked CTU document include at least $30 million in funding directed to CPS families for rental assistance and at least $20,000 annually to create a task force to assist housing insecure CPS families.

The $30 million for rental assistance would come from the city and county and be offered through an equity-based formula for CPS families. One of the jobs of the housing assistance task force would be to assist families with “opposing abusive landlord practices.”

The union is also seeking full funding of Section 8 voucher programs to properly house 15,000 homeless students by 2025.

CTU made housing demands in 2019, and other teachers unions followed

CTU’s extensive housing demands in the draft for their new contract are an extension of the demands it made of Lori Lightfoot back in 2019. Since then, other unions have made similar demands.

The Boston Teachers Union’s 2021-2024 contract included a pilot program “to house homeless families of 1,000 students in Boston schools.”

The United Teachers Los Angeles’ 2022-2025 contract includes a memorandum of understanding to establish a task force to identify vacant school district “land parcels that could be used for the development of affordable housing for low-income students and families.”

The Oakland Education Association’s contract includes a memorandum of understanding instructing Oakland school district and the union to identify “possible locations that could be developed into housing for unhoused and housing insecure” students.

CTU’s housing demands would be costly for Chicago taxpayers. CTU President Stacy Davis Gates might not have been joking when she told a packed house at the City Club of Chicago the upcoming contract would cost “$50 billion and 3 cents.”

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